Market monitoring team uncovers 195 tonnes of expired butter worth Rs160 millionThe butter was found at Dairy Development Corporation but it still can be consumed, it says.
A market monitoring team swooped on Dairy Development Corporation at Balaju Industrial District on Tuesday, and uncovered 195 tonnes of butter several months past its expiration date.
The joint inspection team of the Department of Agriculture and Kathmandu Metropolitan City said the butter stockpile was valued at Rs160.57 million.
The inspection team led by department spokesperson Hari Bahadur Khadka told the Post that the packets labelled best before eight months were many months past their expiration date and were inconsumable.
The retail price of butter is Rs850 per kg.
According to state-owned Dairy Development Corporation, the butter is produced by Sujal Foods, a subsidiary of the Laxmi Group, and the corporation gives it milk to make dairy products. It said the products had not expired and that the quality was still good.
Corporation spokesperson Rajendra Adhikari said that the butter had not expired technically, and that it could be consumed for a longer period if stored at a certain temperature. “There is no problem in butter products and it is consumable,” he said.
“I cannot say why the inspection team said the butter was inconsumable. It can be consumed as the quality will start deteriorating only one and a half years from the best before date,” he added.
Expired products are not consumable after the date mentioned on the packet, but best before does not mean it cannot be consumed after a certain time, he said. He added that Sujal Foods had been delivering butter on time.
The quality of products labelled with best before dates depends on the storage temperature. Butter has a shelf-life of one and a half years depending on the storage temperature, he said. “We have been storing the butter at a lower temperature, as a result of which its quality has not declined,” he said.
Due to Covid-19, milk stocks have increased due to a drop in consumption, but it does not mean it is inconsumable. “As the corporation does not have that much capacity, it sends the milk to the private dairy company that makes it into powder milk and butter. We make payment as per the agreement,” he said.
But as per the inspection, the butter had been brought from Sujal Foods on different dates in four lots, and it has been several months since then.
The corporation has been supplying butter from Sujal Foods and converting it into ghee or selling butter as per market demand.
“We have not seen the document when the corporation supplied the butter, but as per the date on the package, the goods have already crossed the best before date. We have to check the paperwork to find out whether Sujal Foods delivered expired butter or the stock expired while being kept in storage at the corporation's warehouse,” said Khadka.
“We will discuss the issue further with the director general of the corporation on Wednesday to continue the investigation into the matter,” he said.
"The consumption of expired food products has a severe impact on public health, and when a government-owned company is involved in harming public health, what can be expected from the government or the private sector?" said consumer rights activists.
Madhav Timilsina, president of the Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, said that state-owned companies like Nepal Oil Corporation, Food Management and Trading Company and Dairy Development Corporation have never been careful about the procurement process and storage of goods.
"They are not responsible for public health either, due to which consumers are being cheated in quantity- and quality-wise."
With the festival season nearing, large shipments have been sent to big supermarkets like Bhat Bhateni Supermarket and Big Mart, Food Management and Trading Company and even the corporation's own outlets, and all of them should be recalled, he said. “Consumers, for their part, should not buy or consume such products.”